Seven-days before ahead of the start of my South Downs Way journey, I loaded up my new fifty litre rucksack and heading up in to the Mendip Hills for a day walk. This would be my first outing with the Montane Yupik 50. An opportunity to see it it really fits and how comfortable I would be, carrying my current load.
I’d equipped my rucksack with almost everything I’ve been intending to carry on the trail and, with 1.5 litres of water and a flask of tea inside… I was very pleased to find it weighing in at only 14.1kg!
…For me, that is very good. If not “ultralight” enough for many more experienced backpackers and thru-hikers. My hope had simply been to keep it below 16kg and I know that I can refine this further, before Saturday comes.
It may be worth noting that the jacket (Mountain Equipment Rupal) won’t be coming with me on this trail as it’s just too thick and heavy for my liking. As reliable as it has been for me, I would only pack if I was walking at a higher altitude or at a time of year between late autumn and early spring.
My Vaude Lierne jacket is much lighter and packs away easily, even though it is not nearly as reliable at keeping me dry. On the Two Moors Way, Beacons Way or something similar; I’d definitely make weight and space allowances for the Rupal.
Having parked near the bottom of Burrington Combe, I hoisted my hefty rucksack up on to Black Down, where I was surprised and pleased to find bluebells still in bloom. From there I continue a little higher to Beacon Batch and the trig point, before heading down off the hill.
I was ware of the load sat behind me. Signficantly more than the 35 litre pack I carry on day walks, weighing no more than 7kg on average… Yet somewhat more bearable than the 20kg in 65 litres that almost broke me last summer!
I made my way onward to Velvet Bottom nature reserve and began my next climb from there, heading up and out of the valley on a distinctly less-well trodden path. Although the extra weight was noticeable, I felt no pain or discomfort from either of my hips or outer thighs.
Last summer, when I set off along The Ridgeway, my left leg was giving way before I’d hit the four-mile mark. No amount of stopping, stretching, resting or reorganising of my pack could shift that fact that I was carrying too much…
Some say that a person should carry no more than one-quarter of their own weight… I’m around 80kg, according to Google and so, last year’s effort was bordering on the extreme!
It’s not easy to pack light, be ruthless and turn away from the many ‘What ifs?’ of a typically anxious and overthinking mind. But I can promise you that the effort and sacrifice will be worthwhile.
Trust me: if you’re not comfortable, you won’t enjoy your hike.
I didn’t have any huge issues with the ‘barrel’ shape of the Zephyr AD backsystem (not pictured, here). Inflating my water bladder (by blowing back in to the tube) seemed to help.
I’m also wondering what I could potentially use these daisy-chain straps for, beside the lid. If they were lower down, I could rig something together to carry a lightweight tent or sleeping mat.
Almost everything I intend to carry bears its own dry bag. My hygiene kit is one exception. Everything above fits in to the main compartment quite well. I did stop at one point to redistribute some of the mid-weight items from near the top of my pack, as it was beginning to tip and sway while I walked.
While I wouldn’t normally do this, I did pack my two-season sleeping bag in to the aptly-named sleeping bag compartment. Along with my Cloudbase-clone of an inflatable mattress and the pegs for my tent (half of which was inside the main compartment).
It’s possible I might have since purchased a lighter and more compact sleeping option…
While I still need to factor in the outer skin of my tent, five days’ worth of snacks and a spare set of socks, I will mention that the lunchbox won’t be coming with me and I’m sure there were a couple of other substitutions to be made… I’ll do a proper ‘kit post’ sometime after my walk.
As I have very long legs but a short torso, I found it was necessary to lower the shoulder straps slightly (as I do with most packs I’ve owned) and I found the adjustment process to be so simple and strong, with this arrangement.
Since I’m unlikely to be encountering ‘difficult terrain’ along the South Downs Way, I’m again favouring trail-type walking shoes for this long hike. Lighter than boots and supporting a growing belief that our ankles can benefit more from being allowed to breathe and flex, from time to time.
…I haven’t written an awful lot about the pack, have I?
Well, I walked for twelve miles without much of a complaint and, with so many kids about on Saturday, I could’ve possibly been mistaken for a Duke of Edinburgh trainee.
I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say on this one, post-South Downs Way. Until then, any and all questions are welcome.